Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Monday, December 18, 2017

I look at computer based programs offered for stamp collectors and give them a whirl now and then. I'll go through a passionate period of "WOW, this is might be fun" and then I stop using it after about a week or two and go back to my old none tech way. This amuses people who know me - I work with computers everyday and love to play around with software. However, I find most inventory management software too cumbersome. Computers get in the way of enjoying the simple pleasure of wandering through my stamp collection. 

Most of the software I've looked at is too expensive, doesn't offer a trial version or so aesthetically off putting I can't be bothered putting effort into it. If the software looks like it stepped out of the 90s, it doesn't speak well for the program's overall utility in an age of touch screens. But the most important issue is, for me, it takes too many steps to do a simple job. I can whip the info down into a book faster than it takes to fill out a form.

That doesn't mean I don't use computers to help with my modest collection. I do have a few spreadsheets for certain jobs. I also scan stamps so I magnify the details.  I tend to keep most of my notes and collection lists in a couple of small black books. I don't like sitting at my computer when I'm playing around with stamps so a book and pen are much quicker to pop down a bit of information.  

One thing I do is make quick sketches of cancels that catch my eye. It's usually stamps that I don't think I'll keep because they don't fit into my collection but I like the cancel and want to remember it. It's easy to whip off a quick pen sketch of the cancel, along with a note on the envelope/stamp or question about it that I want to look up later. I suppose I could get up, flick on the scanner, pop the stamp in, scan blah blah. It's easier to jot it down in my little black book. 

I was thumbing through the black book today, looking at earlier entries and was struck by how diverse they are. Here's one page:Scan from a page from my black book of stamp cancels

If I find relevant info or a correction while looking around on the internet, I'll add it. Makes an interesting little archive. I kept the Australian cover because of the airmail cancel. 

Here's one of my favourites. I  kept this cover as well below because I loved the graceful crane cancel. 

Scan of cancels showing crane on a Japanese stamp

 These are meant to be a quick reference so if I run across a similar cancel, I have a bit of info. 

Scan of another page of cancels

 I haven't kept the above stamps but I do refer to them once in awhile though. Sometimes a simple pen and paper are the most efficient method of cataloguing a collection. If I can get my hands on the newest editions of stamp management software, I'll give them a try and let you know what I think. 

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And here I sit with my stamps in a complete muddle, and nobody has bothered to tell me what it's all about."
"Listen now, Hemul," said Snufkin slowly and clearly. "It's about a comet that is going to collide with the earth tomorrow."
"Collide?" said the Hemulen. "Has that anything to do with stamp-collecting?”

- Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland   

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